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Solo Piano

Solo Piano

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Tommy Flanagan was always known for his tasteful, flawless and swinging piano playing. The American jazz pianist and composer grew up in Detroit and was initially influenced by artists Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, and Nat King Cole. Within months of moving to New York in 1956 he was recording with Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins. His recordings under various leaders, including the historic Giant Steps of John Coltrane, continued well into 1962 when he became vocalist Ella Fitzgerald’s full time accompanist. He added class to every session that he was involved in and fortunately he was well documented during the latter part of his career.

Solo Piano was not initially released until decades after its 1974 recording. It is significant historically because this outing was the pianist’s first record date as a leader in 13 years and, most importantly, because it is very good music.


What strikes me most on this solo album is the clarity Flanagan brings to each of the tunes. The more "cerebral" jazz artists often begin an account of a tune with a "variation" resulting from thick embellishment of the melody itself and/or the rhythm of that melody. Flanagan consistently begins by honoring his "source material," after which he unfolds no shortage of embellishments involving the tune, its rhythms, and the underlying chord progressions. This was the "bread-and-butter" approach to jazz improvisation during the second half of the twentieth century; and, as such, the album is not only an account of bravura solo piano work but also a first-rate introduction to cultivating the skills of listening to jazz.

-- The Rehearsal Studio (Steven Smoliar)

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    • UPC/Barcode: 717101849123
    • Item Number: SVL1018491